and being excited about all the amazing things you’ll do in this life.’
They are the hands of my very own newly designated teen chauffeur, Grace.
It seems like just yesterday, she was my sweet baby girl. I actually sat in the backseat next to her – just so I could hold her tiny hand. Being our firstborn, she taught me how to be a mom. She broke us into this parenting gig while we sorted through our pre-conceived parenting ideals; basically, she exposed how little we actually knew about being a parent. How did we go from there to having a teen driver in our house? Someone told me, back when she was a baby, not to blink. You don’t get that when you’re a new parent, you’re just busy trying to successfully navigate each day’s challenges, content to survive.
I need a bumper sticker that says:
Teen Driver Behind the Wheel!
Come Near at Your Own Risk!
Do you know how scary it is to turn your keys over to a young person who has zero experience operating an automobile? When they handed the newly printed driver’s permit to her, my heart lurched with the realization that now I actually had to ride as the passenger while she drove me around!
I told James he needs to up our life insurance. I am not sure he did it, because he is probably still reeling from the last time he turned the keys over to her. With wide eyes, he suggested he might need a stiff drink if we are going to continue these driving lessons.
As the parent of a new teen driver, I am learning all sorts of valuable nuggets, for instance:
Did you know that if you are turning right on red, you don’t have to stop at the light?
Did you know that the car can reach 40 mph, like, really fast?
What I am really wondering is this: why doesn’t the passenger side come equipped with an emergency brake? This should be standard.
I’ve said, ‘Brake. Brake… BRAKE!!’ more times than I can count. After one such incident, she turned to me and sweetly declared, “You’re just doing that on purpose to try to scare me.”
Me scaring her?! For reals? Where is my stiff drink?! I don’t even like stiff drinks, but I may start!
This season has me mourning the phasing out of my parental duties. I am grateful it happens in stages and not all at once. As parents, if we are doing our job well, we are constantly working ourselves out of a job. It’s harder to see this when they are little. But as they grow, the milestones start changing, and before you know it, you realize each one is a marked step towards independence. The best quote I’ve found to sum up the parenting journey is by Gretchen Rubin,
Becoming the passenger, instead of the driver, will soon become the norm for me in all areas of her life. This is just one of the many scary stages of letting go, and letting her take the lead in my stead. Soon, she won’t even need me to be in the car with her. I hope when that time comes, she will still occasionally let me ride along with her, just for old time’s sake.
I’ll sign off with this meme I recently found that reminds me so much of our very own newly confident student driver :
Friend 1: I am a confident driver
Friend 2: You almost just ran someone over
Friend 1: Confidently though!